Truth be told
….my parents are the ones that started this.
In the Beginning
Yup, you heard me right. I grew up on a farm with three brothers and plenty of space to explore and adventure. In addition to this, the family would regularly take weekend trips out to visit the local craft circuit in the the countryside, the Midlands Meander; as well as roads that led who knows where (well, my Dad had a good handle on the where, but I had no idea). So I thank my parents for instilling an adventurous spirit in me and allowing me to run with it (see what I did with that pun?!? hee hee).
All this adventuring prompted me to nurture a growing curiosity. What is around the next corner, over the next horizon, who will I meet there, what will it look like? Combine this with a strong interest in reading fantasy novels and writing essays (I know, I am a geek at heart) and I suppose there was a good chance that I would express myself by combining all of them into travel blogging. Fair enough, this didn’t even exist growing up, but its just one of the great opportunities the Internet has opened up.
What is a blog?
Dictionary.com defines it as “Contemporary definitions for blog. noun. an online diary; a personal chronological log of thoughts published on a Web page; also called Weblog , Web log.”
So what is the big deal about blogging? Well, I love to travel. By travel, I mean local and cross border. It can be down the road to a new coffee shop or to a foreign country. Travel satisfies a need I have to experience new things and new places, to behold new beauty and be inspired by it. Blogging is the way that I express that in order to help other people see things they may not necessarily have seen to grow their curiosity about travel.
My blog had its beginnings when I was asked by some out of towners to recommend some local craft shops and restaurants to visit on the KwZaulu-Natal Midlands Meander
I realised that people don’t necessaily know how to search the web for the exact answers they need and I resolved to get more information out there for people to find about my corner of the countryside. I was surprised at the positive response from people, which encouraged me to continue talking about my experiences. This expanded to coffee shops and one of my big loves – coffee, as well as restaurants and lodges further afield.
Some Pointers from Me
As with any passion or hobby that are some things you aren’t aware of when you start. Some of the things I didn’t realise when I started blogging are:
- If anyone would actually read this thing – It is nerve wracking putting myself out there
- It takes hard work to put content out regularly
- Maintaining a website takes time and lots of software updates
- Taking good photos really helps tell a story
- You can make money
- You will sometimes feel frustrated and not want to write
Some of the things I have learnt through blogging:
- There is a wonderful community of bloggers out there writing about their experiences too. You can learn from them.
- Be humble.
- Read other bloggers posts, it can inspire you tremendously.
- Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (seriously, just be kind)
- Ask. Whether it be collaborating with a brand, a person or a holiday destination. Just ask! You never know what the answer will be.
- Be willing to learn. There is much to gain from this. Learn from the Travel industry and fellow bloggers.
- Persistence and determination. Just keep swimming. Keep knocking on those doors with the destinations and Companies you want to work with.
- It isn’t going to ‘happen’ overnight that everyone is going to want to work with you, but hard work pays off.
Secrets to getting started with Blogging
I asked a lot of people around me for help getting going when I started out (and still do). But some of my blogging buddies I have made along my journey along with the adventurous folks at Travelstart have put together a wonderful infographic which serves as a great Blogging 101 on how to get started. It features some really specific tips to get you up and running compliments of the Travel Industry and the Bloggers that know exactly how it feels to do this. It is like having a GPS map on how to get going.
The other thing you are going to need is research. Loooots of research.
About the places you want to see, what documents you are going to need, where you can stay and how you are going to get there. One of the easiest platforms to use for this is Travelstart . Here you can find packages, book hotels or cars or flights. For example, if you are heading to Johannesburg, you can head over to your local Google homepage and type ‘Cheap flights to Johannesburg‘ and guess who is going to pop up in your results? Not only is it a great travel portal, but they have loads of great advice to make sure you are going to have a great time and a smooth trip.
I hope this has provided you with some tips and motivation to get out there and explore. Both the opportunity to travel and to join the community of travel bloggers in our country. I love what J R R Tolkein said “Not all those who wander are lost”. In fact, for some of us who wander, it is how we find ourselves.
I leave you with the words of the great writer Terry Pratchett:
“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”
Until then…..See you on the road
This post is written in collaboration with Travelstart. Main header photography by Kirsten Hughes Photography.